Some time ago, TJ13 reported some seismic but perhaps not wholly unsurprising Formula 1 rumours – Mercedes F1 were looking to sell their team for 2021. At the time, the most likely interested party was the Russian chemical company Mogul Nikita Mazepin together with American Billionaire Roger Penske.
The source for this story was German reporter Ralph Bach who writes for F1insider.com.
A few days ago, Bach writes again on the subject but the story has moved on somewhat from the original rumour, but the end result being the same – Mercedes F1 is set to sell off the works team soon.
The mainstay of the story comes from recent driver signings and one Bernard Charles Ecclestone no less.
For Bach, the German believes that Wolff was completely wrong-footed by the extension of the contract of Max Verstappen to Red Bull to 2023. Indeed TJ13 believed that the deal from Red Bull to Verstappen happened incredibly quicky ahead the Christmas period from whispers mentioned by Max’s manager recently. READ MORE ON THAT HERE
For Wolff, if it was true he’d been targetting Verstappen for a Mercedes drive, perhaps in an attempt to keep Mercedes interested at racing in F1, then this ship certainly sailed when Max signed for Red Bull. The only hope Wolff might have would be the performance clauses that could release Verstappen from Red Bull early. Those clauses being performance-related, meaning the Honda Red Bull package must deliver early this season, unlikely that the pragmatic Wolff would be counting on this scenario happening.
For Red Bull, Verstappen signing is a message to Honda that they need to commit to Red Bull long term and beyond 2021. For Wolff, he probably sees the writing on the wall for Mercedes participation in Formula 1. The German marque already starting to invest heavily into other areas, and in motorsport – namely Formula E.
Indeed, just this weekend, Mercedes brand new Formula E team and their driver Stoffel Van Doorne now leads the Championship after some very good consistent results in the first 3 races. Remarkable for a brand new team.
It seems that Wolff has actively commenced searching for interested parties who might be willing to buy the team, probably along with Wolff himself. The Austrian does have a share holding in the team.
According to Eccelstone, “Toto wants to be prepared in case Mercedes drops out and only acts as engine manufacturer.”
TJ13 thinks this will happen, and with the switch for McLaren to Mercedes power in 2021, the British team from Woking is lining itself up to return to full Mercedes works status yet again. The vast investment in their new wind tunnel project is a testament that that. McLaren are spending now, whilst they can and a budget cap hasn’t been implemented.
But they’d only do this if they thought it would be worth it. TJ13 understands that Mercedes need to see this investment in order to provide works status to McLaren.
Eccelestone continues to say: “Why should Mercedes continue to spend so much money on a team when they have already won everything? In terms of image, it is perfectly sufficient for the company to do marketing with the hybrid engines.”
“The mere fact that Mercedes has not yet signed the new Concorde Agreement from 2021 is strange.”
Ecclestone believes that Wolff and Racing Point team owner Lawrence Stroll are in negotiations with a view to buy the Mercedes team.
Stroll, who is in the process of buying 20 percent of the British car manufacturer Aston Martin, wants to continue the team together with Wolff under the name Aston Martin.
“They have been like identical twins for two years now and spend a lot of time together even on race weekends.” says Ecclestone when describing Stroll and Wolff.
Whether this scenario plays out remains to be seen.
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